How to avoid fire risks when cranking up the heat

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — As thermometers drop, homeowners typically crank up the heat, but sometimes that can put them at risk for a house fire.

To stay safe, make sure your HVAC units have clean filters to prevent a fire caused by dust and debris.

Jacksonville fire marshal John Reed said putting plastic up over windows is one trick to keep heat from escaping your home.

“Loss of heat means higher light bills,” said Reed. “But your windows could also be an escape route in the event of a fire, so that’s something you might want to be real careful about.”

Of course, there are other portable heating devices as well, but Onslow County Emergency Services director Norman Bryson warns those who use them to be careful.

“We want them to take extra precaution with heating of their homes and how they use those heating devices — especially electrical heaters, space heaters or even the kerosene heaters,” said Bryson.

Portable heaters cause 70 deaths each year from accidental fires.

To use them safely, avoid placing them any closer than 36 inches to combustible materials like couches curtains or beds.

They can ignite at temps close to 400 degrees, and most kerosene heaters put off much higher temps.

Never refuel a kerosene heating device indoors and make sure it’s cooled down first.

And when it comes to fire places, officials said to make sure you don’t overload it and have a spark arrestor, which is a screen or the glass doors that cover the front of the fireplace.”

Fire officials say installing carbon monoxide detectors is one of the best things you can do to protect yourself and loves one this winter.

If you need to use a generator this weekend, always use it outdoors, keep it away from windows and doors and don’t run it inside a garage, even if the door is open.

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